Dedication and loyalty honoured
A total of 390 activists from various branches were honoured for their dedicated and loyal service to the party at the PAP60 Dinner and Awards Ceremony held on Nov 22, 2014 at the Singapore Expo. Petir speaks to some of the big winners to find out what continues to keep them motivated and inspired all these years
Mr Allan Ang Pong Tian
Branch: Paya Lebar (Aljunied GRC)
For the past 20 years and counting, Allan Ang has been constantly thinking how to improve the lives of Paya Lebar residents. Be it bringing in new blood to beef up the ranks or thinking of innovative ways to reach out to the seniors, the 45-year-old branch secretary believes that there is never a day off when it comes to serving the people.
The father-of-four, with a fifth child on the way, has championed a number of key initiatives. Among them is a new programme to help elderly residents with their transport costs when they go for their medical appointments. The Silver Support Scheme involves taxi drivers and ambulance services to ferry seniors to hospitals or clinics at a subsidised $5 fee per trip.
Mr Ang is also active when it comes to beefing up the membership. In 2013, the branch received a bumper crop of 70 new members as the activists reached out to more people from temples and voluntary welfare organisations, many of whom are younger residents in their 20s and 30s.
Perhaps his greatest challenge these days is the fact that Paya Lebar is now part of a GRC run by the opposition. Mr Ang says that his branch is working doubly hard to ensure the party's activities are visible and recognised by the residents, such as by conducting more frequent block visits to better reach out to the community.
Winning the Commendation Medal has motivated him to do even more for the party and for Singapore. Says Mr Ang: "Our founders, the pioneer generation, have done so much to make this country into what it is today. It is our responsibility to carry on that good work for the next generation."
Ms Betty Kwek Soh Cheng
Branch: Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng (Tanjong Pagar GRC)
The secret to balancing party activities and some semblance of a healthy social life is to have a supportive spouse and children, says Betty Kwek matter-of-factly.
The mother of three boys juggles her full-time bank manager job with her grassroots and party activities. "I'm fortunate that my children are now grown up, so I have more time for branch events. It helps that my husband also does the household work, and is supportive of my party work,'' says the deputy chairman at Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng branch.
Nothing gives Ms Kwek, 61, greater satisfaction than knowing that she has done her part to improve the lives of the residents in her constituency.
"We do our best to write to the authorities on their behalf. Usually it's either to help secure a rental flat or with their financial difficulties. Whenever we are successful, they usually come back and thank us. That gives us that extra motivation to carry on each and every week," she says.
A party member for 22 years, Ms Kwek also holds a number of key appointments at several grassroots organisations, and was previously the District Representative for the PAP Women's Wing.
She hopes to see more women join the party, although she admits that it is far from easy.
"The younger women in society, for instance, put their careers and families first, and it is understandable. But we do see many more female volunteers coming to our meet-the- people session every week and that is encouraging. We need all the help we can get to reach out to every segment of the constituency in the best possible way," she says.
Mr Ng Hock Lye
Branch: Chua Chu Kang (Chua Chu Kang GRC)
Ask Ng Hock Lye about his latest accolade - the Commendation Medal - and he is quick to deflect the praise to the many grassroots leaders and activists serving in Chua Chu Kang branch.
"I feel I didn't do that much to deserve all this. This award is meaningful only because there are many dedicated people giving their time and energy to the community and the residents. So long as we all work together as a team, we can get things done eefficiently," says the 66-year-old property developer who celebrated 20 years of service with the PAP in 2014.
Born and bred in Chua Chu Kang, he enjoys working with the grassroots leaders to improve the lives of the people. "Like many of us in the branch, I still have so many old friends and colleagues living here, and Chua Chu Kang will always be my home. We all try to do our part to address the residents' concerns and problems and solve them," he says.
The Chua Chu Kang Citizens' Consultative Committee chairman, who already has the Public Service Medal and the Public Service Star awards to his name, has also been patron of a Marine Parade grassroots organisation since 1982.
He is known for his generosity, often making donations to the community and the less-fortunate and spearheading fund-raising activities at both the branch and GRC level.
"I only have a Secondary Four education, but I have been fortunate enough to do well in life. I believe in giving back to society and I help contribute and raise funds for good causes such as building new community centres," says the father-of-three.
"We tap on our business networks and friends and invite them to give what they can. We are inspired by our advisor, (Health Minister) Gan Kim Yong, who's been very supportive of our initiatives over the years," he adds.
What other recipients say about their awards
The entire family obviously feels very proud by the party's efforts to acknowledge my husband's achievements. We were all very emotional and touched when we first heard the news. It's not easy to be awarded the Commendation Medal, and I know my husband would have been very happy and honoured. While he was always busy at one branch function after another during all his 38 years of service, he would still put the family first.
Madam Tan Ah Chang, 60, wife of the late Aw Leng Hwee, who received the Commendation Medal (Posthumous). Aw Leng Hwee, 61, a former secretary at Kampong Kembangan and Tampines West branch, passed away in February 2014, about two months before nominations for the awards began
I cried when I heard that I was getting this prestigious award. I've been with the party for 52 years now, and I couldn't have done it without the support of my wife and children, and all the staff in the HQ and at Marine Parade GRC. I've been at the Geylang Serai branch since day one and I'm pleased to have done my small part in transforming the community into what it is today.
Mr Shanmugam s/o Velayuthan, 80, recipient of the Dedicated Service Star Medal. He was a Gold Award winner in 1988 and has actively participated in every general election in Singapore
This award is truly my life's greatest achievement. I've been with the PAP nearly all my life, joining when I was just a teenager and I've never looked back. I am proud of the party's achievements, and I will continue to contribute so long as I am fit and healthy."
Mr Png Wee Chor, 74, recipient of the Dedicated Service Star Medal. He has served for 56 years and still attends the meet-the-people sessions at Kampong Chai Chee branch every Monday despite his extensive business travel schedule
This article was first published in the January 2015 issue of Petir Magazine